Yangon, November 9
Myanmar’s ruling party, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, on Monday said it was confident it would form a new government after reporting a lead based on its unofficial count of votes from the country’s second general election since the end of strict military rule.
Sunday’s election was seen as a referendum on the fledgeling democratic government led by Suu Kyi’s ruling National League for Democracy (NLD), which remains popular at home but has seen its reputation collapse overseas amid allegations of genocide against the Rohingya Muslim minority.
The Election Commission is expected to announce early official results later on Monday.
In a running NLD tally on its official Facebook page, the party said it had won 30 of the 315 seats being contested in the 425-member lower house while the second-biggest party, the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), had won one seat.
“The results are better than expected,” said NLD spokesman Monywa Aung Shin, adding that the party’s tally was based on data from its campaign committees across the country.
“I am sure we can … form the government,” Monywa Aung Shin said by telephone.
The NLD tally also showed it had won a seat in the upper house, where 161 seats are up for grabs in the 217-seat chamber, A spokesman for the military-backed USDP could not immediately be reached for comment.
The military, which ruled Myanmar for nearly 50 years until it began withdrawing from civilian politics in 2011, controls a quarter of seats in both houses of parliament, under a constitution it drew up and which Suu Kyi and her allies want to amend.
The NLD needs 322 seats in total to form a government and is expected to win but with a smaller margin as new parties emerge and ethnic minority parties gain support in some regions.
SOME UNABLE TO VOTE
In contrast to the wave of optimism that greeted the NLD’s landslide win in 2015, Myanmar went into this election under a cloud of a surging COVID-19 outbreak, economic hardship and escalating ethnic conflicts.
Although Myanmar is seeing an average of 1,100 new coronavirus cases a day – compared with a handful in early August – fears of the virus appeared not to dampen Sunday’s turnout among the 37 million registered voters.
The Election Commission has yet to release data on turnout but in the biggest city, Yangon, long lines of voters wearing face masks and shields formed from dawn.
But more than a million people across the country were unable to vote after polls were cancelled due to insurgencies.
Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya, a Muslim minority confined to camps and villages in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, most without citizenship, were also unable to vote.
The Democracy and Human Rights Party, a Rohingya party, said in a statement it was “utterly disappointed” that its people had been disenfranchised.
The election commission has said the polls in areas affected by the conflict had to be cancelled for safety reasons and that only citizens were entitled to vote.
Most Rohingya are not considered Myanmar citizens but migrants from neighbouring Bangladesh even though many can trace family roots back many generations.
The United Nations has said there was genocidal intent in a 2017 army crackdown that forced 7,30,000 Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh.
Myanmar rejects that saying its security forces were carrying out legitimate operations against Rohingya militants. Reuters